A Vatican investigation of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has found that bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed reports that he slept with seminarians. Lawyers and alleged victims are calling for accountability. (Nov. 10)
A Toronto MP is leaving the Liberal caucus after CBC News found she had employed her sister in her constituency office for years using public funds— a violation of parliamentary rules. Yasmin Ratansi announced her departure late Monday on Facebook. "I made an error in judgment by employing my sister in my constituency office, and I have remedied the situation, but this does not excuse the error I made," she wrote. Ratansi said she will continue sitting as an Independent, representing her constituents in Don Valley East, and will "await guidance" from the ethics commissioner.The statement comes more than 30 hours after CBC News asked her office for comment on the issue.Several former staffers told CBC News Ratansi tried to cover up the relationship by having her sister use a fake first name and telling some staff to keep their family connection quiet."I think it's horrific that a member of Parliament that's entrusted to behave honourable and ethically can get away with impunity," said a former employee. "It really questions the integrity of the institutions."Ratansi, a backbencher, is a trained accountant and became the first Muslim woman elected to the House of Commons in 2004. She lost the seat in 2011 and won it back in 2015. Ratansi is the chair of the standing committee on environment and used to be the vice-chair of the committee overseeing federal government departments' expenses.Her sister Zeenat Khatri has worked as her constituency assistant for much of her time in office, according to six former staffers. During her early years as an MP, it was against the rules to hire "immediate family" including parents, spouses and children, but not siblings. That changed in 2012 when the House's Board of Internal Economy updated its bylaws, said House director of communications Heather Bradley. MPs have their own operating budget and are allowed to pay constituency assistants a maximum salary of $89,700 a year, according to the House of Commons. That means Ratansi could have paid her sister up to $267,000 for three years of salary.'Blatant disregard'Multiple sources said Ratansi employed her sister from at least 2005 to 2011, then hired her again in 2017. But that time, said the sources, Ratansi and Khatri told staff to call her "Jenny" rather than Zeenat — a name she hadn't used in the office before. CBC News has seen one business card bearing the name "Jenny Khatri.""Yasmin told us explicitly — my sister will be coming to work in our office," said that same former employee. "She was going to assume a different name, so she was going to be referred to as Jenny. "The idea was we bring her in but try to conceal her identity, keep her hidden, keep her tucked away so that people don't find out that her sister is employed in the office."CBC News spoke to five former employees who worked for Ratansi's office between 2015 and present and a sixth person who worked for her more than a decade ago. They spoke on condition of confidentiality, citing fear of retaliation from Ratansi herself and of potential harm to their careers.Two former employees said Ratansi and Khatri went to great lengths to cover up their family connection from constituents."The fact that she hired her sister and it's against the rules ... it just feels wrong, it is unethical and blatant disregard of the rules," said another former staff member. Multiple former employees said they saw Khatri hide in a spare office when members of the public came in. They said Khatri was worried that a volunteer or constituent might recognize her as Ratansi's sister.Sources also said Khatri instructed some employees to make sure she wasn't photographed at public events — unless she was attending as a family member rather than as Ratansi's constituency assistant."You might not like it, but you're bound to sort of keep that secret, or else," said one former staffer. "We were forced to, as staff members, to basically be complicit in unethical behaviour … it hurts to basically choke that down and not say anything."Other staffers claim they were kept in the dark. One former employee said they believed the pair were not related and, when told that Ratansi and Khatri are siblings, said "the wool was pulled over my eyes."As of Monday, Khatri was still listed as Ratansi's constituency assistant on the government's online directory. More than 24 hours after CBC News asked Ratansi for comment, her Liberal website had been taken down.'It's a hard day' says government whipChief government whip Mark Holland said he was not aware of the issue until contacted by CBC News on Monday. He said the House rules are clear and it's "essential they be respected.""We try to have rigorous systems and processes but clearly this was not caught and now it has to go to the ethics commissioner to figure out what the appropriate restitution is," he told CBC News."It's a hard day. I was elected in 2004 with Yasmin, so it's a very difficult day. But I think taking responsibility for her lapse in judgment, stepping away from caucus … these are the right steps."Chris MacDonald, an associate professor who teaches business ethics at the Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, says there are good reasons why the public frowns on nepotism and expects public figures to hire on merit.He said the claim that Ratansi covered up her sister's hiring is more troubling than the hiring itself. He said it suggests a guilty mind and an attempt to keep information from constituents and voters."Once there is an attempt to cover it up, then it makes it pretty clear that even the person doing the hiring realizes there's something fishy here," he said. "If these allegations are true, it's a disturbing picture of abuse of power, of a misuse of a position that involves trust and public resources."
The B.C. agency responsible for the group home where Cree teen Traevon Chalifoux-Desjarlais died has seen the deaths of at least four other Indigenous youth in its care or aged out of its care, CBC News has learned. Xyolhemeylh, or Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society, has faced criticism in the past for inadequate staffing and resources to support vulnerable youth, including in a Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) audit published earlier this year.Xyolhemeylh is an agency delegated by the ministry as part of an initiative to give Indigenous communities more control over child welfare.Traevon, 17, died on Sept. 18 in an Abbotsford, B.C., group home called Ware Resource, operated by Rees Family Services, a company contracted out by Xyolhemeylh.His body was found in a closet in the group home four days after his death.Others who died aged 2 to 19 Alex Gervais, an Indigenous teen who took his own life in 2015, was also in the care of Xyolhemeylh when he died, according to Doug Kelly, one of Xyolhemeylh's founders and president of Stó:lo Tribal Council.Gervais was moved to a hotel room where he was living by himself in violation of provincial government policy. Before his move to the hotel, his group home, run by A Community Vision and contracted out by Xyolhemeylh, was shut down due to unsafe conditions. Another Indigenous teen with fetal alcohol syndrome, who CBC News is not naming, died suddenly in 2019, just seven months after aging out of care with Xyolhemeylh at age 19, according to documents obtained by CBC News. Advocates such as B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth have long said child welfare agencies need to be more proactive in creating a comprehensive plan to help youth transition out of care.Santanna Scott-Huntinghawk also died at 19, just seven months after aging out of care with Xyolhemeylh. She died alone in a tent in Surrey, B.C., in late 2016. Her sister Savannah Scott-Huntinghawk confirmed to CBC News that she had been with the same agency before losing all her supports after turning 19, in a case that highlighted concerns about youth aging out of care. At the time, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth Bernard Richard said Santanna's case "raises huge concerns for us." "She is part of too many young British Columbians who are being abandoned at age 19."Two-year-old Chassidy Whitford died while in Xyolhemeylh's care in 2002.A review by the B.C. government in 2003 found the agency did not meet all the requirements of child protection standards regarding the child.'Absolutely gut wrenching'The deaths are "absolutely gut wrenching," said a former social worker with Xyolhemeylh, who CBC News is not naming because she fears speaking out could jeopardize her current employment. "I don't understand how many more children this has to happen to for somebody to wake up," she said. Xyolhemeylh was not available for comment.The ministry said it cannot comment because the government is in caretaker mode due to the recent provincial election and because an investigative process is underway."It is important to ensure that work is completed before conclusions or assumptions are made," a statement said.There were 98 deaths overall of children and youth who were in care or receiving reviewable services in B.C. from June 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, according to a 2019 B.C. Representative for Children and Youth report. Thirty-five were Indigenous.Huge caseloads Xyolhemeylh assumed responsibility for child and welfare programs for Indigenous youth in the Fraser Valley in 1993. The agency provides services to 18 First Nations and a number of B.C. urban centres, including Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Agassiz and Mission. According to the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, of the approximately 4,000 Indigenous children in care in B.C., Xyolhemeylh provides services to over 400.But a number of reports over the years have shown that delegated agencies such as Xyolhemeylh are struggling.The former Xyolhemeylh social worker, who also spent a number of years at MCFD, said the beginning of her time with the agency was positive. There was a strong focus on family preservation rather than child protection or removing kids. She said she also appreciated the strong focus on culture.But about two years in, she noticed a shift. Jobs were getting cut, there were huge caseloads of up to 25 kids per social worker, a high staff turnover, a lack of training and a lack of qualified leadership. "I had no guidance," she said."You'd start working and get these ridiculous caseloads of high numbers and files that have literally been neglected."The BCGSEU, which ratified a collective agreement with Xyolhemeylh in 2019, agreed that delegated agencies' workers have heavier caseloads, lower wage rates and fewer benefits than MCFD workers. A 2017 report released by B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth showed the B.C. government's funding to delegated agencies is inequitable and inconsistent and revealed that child protection staff carried an average of 30 cases at a time — 50 per cent more than is recommended.In B.C., there's no cap on social worker caseloads.Audit reveals low compliance rates The MCFD audit published in January found Xyolhemeylh had high staff turnover and vacancies were left unfilled for long periods of time.The agency was taken over by the province in 2006 as a result of staffing problems but has been operating under a new delegation agreement since 2010.The audit found that Xyolhemeylh had only a three per cent compliance rate — instances that conform to a policy, process or procedure — when it came to a social worker's relationship and contact with a child in care. It pointed to the large geographical area that the agency covers as presenting a challenge for workers to maintain regularly scheduled face-to-face contact with families and children in care.When it came to developing a comprehensive care plan, Xyolhemeylh had only an 11 per cent compliance rate, the audit found.Of the cases the ministry reviewed, 49 per cent did not contain initial and annual care plans.The audit also found a need for records management training for the administrative staff and consistency in filing procedures between offices. The ex-Xyolhemeylh social worker said because of the high caseloads, paperwork was often the last thing on social workers' minds.Investigations underwayThe lawyer for Samantha Chalifoux, Traevon's mother, is now pushing for a public inquiry into her son's death.Xyolhemeylh previously said it had launched an internal review into the death, while B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth said it is reviewing the case and preparing for an investigation. CBC News tried to contact contractor Rees Family Services, but its phone numbers listed in the Fraser Valley are out of service. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities confirmed Rees is accredited until May 2022.
This column is an opinion from Andrew Leach, an energy and environmental economist at the University of Alberta. It's a tough time to be Jason Kenney. As premier of Alberta, he's dealing with a provincial economy hobbled by oil price declines and cratered foreign investment, provincial books further in the red than the province has ever seen, and a pandemic well into its second wave. He promised jobs, economy and pipelines 18 months ago. At least the Trans Mountain pipeline still looks likely to be completed. But, if you ask him, none of the bad news is his responsibility. The oil sector's troubles? Blame OPEC, Russia, Trudeau and maybe soon Biden. The red ink? The same, plus the NDP's legacy of a bloated public service. The pandemic? Everyone but his government. The man who demands you take personal responsibility refuses even the smallest measure of it for himself or his government. COVID-19 cases hit record levels nearly every day now — a startling 919 new cases were identified on Nov. 7. But it's not the case counts that hit hardest, it's what the numbers signal. Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, reports almost daily now that our medical system is bending under the strain of new COVID cases, with more restrictions on elective procedures announced nearly every day. Health-care workers speaking out Doctors and nurses on the front lines are speaking out. We know that hospitalizations follow new cases with a lag, and with more than four times the active cases we had a month ago, we have to hope that the system can cope with the coming surge. And, worse still, we know that increased numbers of deaths will follow in the wake of the ever-increasing new cases. It was Premier Kenney who decided we should wait until our hospital system was strained to consider more actions to prevent transmission and, when anyone questioned this approach, the premier's army of issues managers were quick to ask why they didn't trust the province's chief medical officer of health. Honest advice, loyal implementation and please don't mind the rapidly approaching bus, Dr. Hinshaw. I'm sure Premier Kenney will stand behind you when things start to get ugly. On Nov. 6, Premier Kenney joined Dr. Hinshaw at her COVID briefing for the first time in months. He started, incomprehensibly, with a victory lap, claiming that his government had created one of the best testing and tracing systems in Canada. You'd be forgiven for thinking that everything was working just fine and according to plan. We learned that it wasn't. It had been announced only a day earlier that AHS was giving up on effective contact tracing for most cases, downloading that responsibility to Albertans as well. This didn't have to be the case. We've seen rising case counts here and elsewhere for months. We knew that, with the measures our government was prepared to implement, cases were doubling rapidly and would continue to do so. More new cases, and thus the need for more contact tracers was predictable, but rest assured it's not the premier's fault. No one should be surprised that calls for personal responsibility alone could not solve a provincewide collective action problem. Last week, we also learned that many people with COVID-19 travelled, worked or attended social events while symptomatic. To some degree, that responsibility lies with the people, but as far as working is concerned, that's not an easy choice for some people to make. Dr. Hinshaw, concerned as ever, asked that employers "support their staff to [take time off] wherever possible." The federal government has provided emergency benefits for this, which were oddly not mentioned. Mention of any help provided by Premier Kenney's government was also absent from the briefing, because they've not provided much at all, other than a provision to allow employees to take unpaid leave without risk of being laid off. Schools could be next The next shoe to drop is likely going to be schools. As schools reopened in the fall, there were concerns with Alberta's already-rising case counts. While there is no magic number for safe schools, metrics proposed by Harvard's Global Health Institute hold that safe school openings can happen, with appropriate safeguards, if a jurisdiction is seeing fewer than 25 daily new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Over the past four days, we've averaged 17.5 new cases per 100,000 across the province, with numbers expected to rise in the coming weeks. More cases mean more contacts, more students and staff in isolation, more strain on teachers, and eventually the system will not be able to cope. If schools can't operate consistently, that's going to place a heavier and heavier price on parents with kids, especially single parents and those with jobs that can't be done remotely. As case counts have risen, we've heard that "it's time to up our game," and that some among us need to "knock it off," but even Premier Kenney and his ministers can't make that happen. WATCH | Jason Kenney tells Albertans to stop having gatherings at home About 48 hours after asking Albertans to give up their social gatherings and to be personally responsible, there was the premier at an indoor event in Grande Prairie. Other ministers' social media accounts routinely show similar gatherings. Knock it off, indeed. Many of us have given up a lot of things that matter to us for months now, and the premier couldn't muster enough personal responsibility to pass up the chance to give a speech as the second wave of the pandemic spirals out of control. There is no trade-off between health and the economy — the economy is the people, and the virus is what's keeping things from getting back to full speed. Just as a government can create economic activity with debt-financed spending, we can stimulate economic activity in the short term by avoiding public health guidance, but it won't last. Just like so much borrowed money, the public health bill is coming due in Alberta. The question is, who is going to pay it? If things keep going down the path we're on, we're going to see costs fall disproportionately on the backs of some Albertans, while the premier and his government resist taking on costs on our behalf. Fear and goodwill not enough Premier Kenney is banking on a combination of fear and goodwill being enough to keep new case counts from continuing to grow exponentially. So far, that's not working, and I can't find any evidence of such things working elsewhere once case levels are as high as they are here. Rather, we've seen plenty of examples, notably in the U.K., where a delayed reaction saw growing case numbers quickly close off less draconian options than a hard lockdown. We do see evidence of success from other policies, from relatively early lockdowns in Australia reducing community transmission to zero, to aggressive tracking, tracing and isolation measures in jurisdictions like New Zealand keeping the virus largely at bay thus far. There is no one best solution, and certainly no magic solution that comes without costs of its own. As we allow the number of active cases to grow, we'll quickly come to face more and more extreme choices. The role of government is to co-ordinate collective action toward a common goal and to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of the freight. And right now, that's not happening. We can afford millions to fund a war room and a witch hunt, and billions for new oil and gas projects, but we can't muster more than a good scolding to fight the pandemic? It's time to knock it off, and take some personal responsibility, Premier Kenney. This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):2:50 p.m.Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting three new cases of COVID-19.The province is now dealing with 18 active cases, 15 of which were reported in the past week.The small but sudden spike has prompted the province to impose tougher restrictions on the 14-day isolation period for people who enter Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic region.One of the new cases is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada but the other two are linked to a cluster of new cases in Clayton Park, in the west end of Halifax.Nova Scotia has recorded 1,132 cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths, and 1,049 people have recovered.\---2:30 p.m.Yukon officials say they do not have the space or staff to accommodate a full-time return to class for students in grades 10 to 12 in Whitehorse.Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says current health and safety guidelines to fight COVID-19 would require classes in multiple locations other than schools and the territory would have to hire up to 60 more people.She says students will remain on a modified schedule for the rest of the school year.Yukon's chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley says students will now have to maintain a one-metre distance from each other in classrooms and masks will not will be not just recommended but required in common areas including hallways, cafeterias, libraries and corridors.Yukon reports no current cases of COVID-19.\---2:05 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting 383 new cases of COVID-19, five additional deaths and a record number of people in hospital with the coronavirus.The province says 207 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, 30 of them in intensive care.Manitoba's recent surge of cases has prompted the government to impose a wide range of restrictions, including the closure of in-store shopping at non-essential retail outlets, that will take effect Thursday.\---1:55 p.m.Quebec Premier François Legault says he’s maintaining partial lockdown orders affecting most of the province until at least Nov. 23.Legault said today the slight uptick in daily infections across the province justifies keeping bars, gyms, entertainment venues and restaurant dining areas closed across most of Quebec.He says while Montreal and Quebec City are stable, the situation in five regions — including Saguenay and Lanaudière — are especially worrying.The premier is also warning managers of long-term care homes they will be held responsible if they cannot keep COVID-19 outbreaks under control inside their residences.\---1:15 p.m.Prince Edward Island is reporting one new case of COVID-19.The new case is a woman in her 20s who is a close contact of a previously identified case.Health officials say the province now has three active cases and all three people are self-isolating and experiencing mild symptoms.Prince Edward Island has had 67 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and all have been travel-related.\---12:45 p.m.Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are advising rotational workers in the province about an outbreak at the Seymour Pacific Developments work site in Manitoba.Officials say any workers from the province returning from the site must self-isolate away from family members for a full 14 days upon arrival.Public health authorities also say the source of a COVID-19 infection announced Sunday is still under investigation.Newfoundland and Labrador has seven active cases of COVID-19, with 297 confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic.\---12 p.m.The Manitoba government is forcing non-essential stores to close and banning social gatherings in an effort to stop a surge of COVID-19 cases.Starting Thursday, non-essential retail outlets will be limited to curbside pickup and delivery, and churches will not have in-person gatherings.Social gatherings with anyone other than household members will be forbidden, and restaurants, museums, theatres and recreational activities must close.Schools will remain open as the province's chief public health officer says officials are not seeing much transmission within schools.Premier Brian Pallister says the province is at a critical point in its fight against the virus.Manitoba leads all provinces in per-capita active cases.\---11:50 a.m.Procurement Minister Anita Anand says her department is searching for suppliers that can help find a way to physically distribute doses of a future COVID-19 vaccine to provinces and territories.She says the logistics of distributing a COVID-19 vaccine are complex, especially given the need to transport and store the doses at specific temperatures.She says Ottawa is moving quickly to ensure that when a vaccine is ready, so is Canada.Anand also says the federal government has signed a new agreement with Ontario company Becton, Dickinson to receive about 7.6 million rapid antigen tests.\---11:45 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is begging provincial governments to ask for more help if they need it to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.He says cases are surging across the country, and he insists that no leader should loosen anti-pandemic restrictions because they're worried about the economic impact of keeping those restrictions.Trudeau says that's how we end up with a worse pandemic, more people sick and more businesses harmed.The federal government is spending $61 million more for anti-COVID-19 efforts on First Nations in Manitoba, which are seeing sharp increases in cases.\---11:30 a.m.The British Columbia body that has the power to set and enforce workplace health and safety standards is stepping up COVID-19 inspections in two regions where cases of the virus are spiking.WorkSafeBC says it will conduct enhanced COVID-19 inspections at workplaces in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions — covering the central and south coasts, Fraser Valley and all of Metro Vancouver.Priority inspections will happen at workplaces where it is difficult to maintain physical distance, where large numbers of people interact, and where workers share surfaces, tools and equipment.B.C. recorded five deaths and 998 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, with close to 4,900 active infections.But of the nearly 19,000 cases in the province since the start of the pandemic, data shows fewer than 10 per cent have been reported outside the Fraser or Vancouver Coastal health regions.\---11:15 a.m.Quebec is reporting 1,162 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, nine of which occurred in the past 24 hours.Health officials said today hospitalizations decreased by six, to 534, but 82 people were in intensive care, a rise of six patients.The province says 981 more people have recovered from the disease, for a total of 99,721.Quebec has reported 117,151 COVID-19 cases and 6,493 deaths linked to the virus.\---10:50 a.m.Ontario is reporting a record high of 1,388 new COVID-19 cases today, and 15 new deaths due to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says 520 cases are in Toronto, 395 in Peel Region, and 100 in York Region.Elliott says there are also 72 new cases in Halton Region and 50 in Niagara Region.The province says it has conducted 29,125 tests since the last daily report.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.The Canadian Press
The federal government has promised to expand high-speed internet connectivity to rural and remote communities, a disparity made more glaring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to have 98 per cent of Canadians connected by 2026, and the rest by 2030.
A document leaked to CBC News in a bid to influence public opinion reveals an ambitious plan by U.S.-based Origin International Inc. to transform the Come By Chance oil refinery into a "world-leading" operation focused on job creation and protecting the environment.But it's a strategy that hinges on an injection of public money.Meanwhile, the current owners, New York-based investment management firm Silverpeak Strategic Partners, is playing it cool, saying in a statement Monday it has had preliminary discussions with "several organizations and investors from around the globe.""We can confirm we have received a letter of intent from Origin International. A letter of intent is not an offer," the statement, attributed to North Atlantic Refining, reads.North Atlantic said its objective is to find a "qualified investor for North Atlantic and the refinery," and that any potential deal will be time-consuming and complex.If a sale is not possible "in the near term," North Atlantic said, it is prepared to continue operating the site as an import terminal for fuels, which has been the case since the refinery was idled.These latest developments reflect what has become a protracted and complex process as the fate of Newfoundland and Labrador's only refinery hangs in the balance.In a new twist, it was revealed Monday that prominent St. John's businessman Dean MacDonald is actively involved with Origin's campaign to gain a business foothold in the province.MacDonald joined Origin CEO Nicholas Myerson during an online meeting Monday with the leadership of United Steelworkers Local 9316, which represents refinery workers.It's believed MacDonald is among those at the table, willing to invest his own capital into the refinery and retail network of North Atlantic stores.MacDonald said he would comment "very soon" about his interest in the process.A source at the meeting described Origin as a "solid entity" with a "good business plan."In a sign of the public relations strategy linked to its bid, an Origin representative for Origin provided CBC News with a copy of the presentation made by the company to political and union leaders.The presentation lays out a plan to expand operations at the refinery, including the co-processing of waste oil products, carry out an environmental cleanup, and bring back hundreds of workers who lost their jobs in March after the pandemic shattered oil markets and forced the owners to stop refining fuels at the Placentia Bay facility.But any plan will be activated only if Origin can reach a deal with Silverpeak for the purchase of the assets, and if governments step up with some public money "to restore the refinery and remediate the environmental risks.""This plan can be put into reality if federal and provincial governments are willing to act," the document reads. The level of public investment is not spelled out in the document, but a source with the company says Origin is seeking help to clean up heavily polluted crude sludge ponds and potentially contaminated soil, and to cover costs related to "facilities and operations.""All to be hammered out in negotiations," the source said, adding that a cleanup would create some 100 additional jobs over five years.Origin is pressing for the process to move quickly. It wants to finalize a deal with Silverpeak by Dec. 31 so laid-off workers can be back on the job by Jan. 15 and the refinery can return to full operations in June.The company says speed is critical in order to avoid a cold shutdown of the refinery this winter, which its says would deliver a death blow to the complex facility."Local family livelihoods are at stake and the time for decisive action is now," the document states.In its statement Monday, North Atlantic said the refinery can be maintained in warm idle mode until next spring while they continue looking "for a favourable solution for the refinery."Meanwhile, with nearly 500 direct jobs — and a substantial chunk of the provincial economy — on the line, the release of the Origin document appears to be part of a strategy to pressure public officials into taking action.It's not clear why Origin is asking for public money, since its presentation to political and union leaders describe a "viable, fundable, secure, and sustainable plan" for the refinery.Energy Minister Andrew Parsons repeated Monday that "there's nothing that's off the table as it relates to this process." However, he also stressed that any government money, if approved, will come with strings attached."You can rest assured that if government funds go into something, a deal of this, I can guarantee you they won't be going to the bottom line of anybody," he said. "They will be used to ensure a bright future for what we believe is an important asset for the province and for the workforce that's behind it."Parsons also stressed that this is a private transaction between Silverpeak and "multiple" interested parties.Since purchasing the assets in 2014, Silverpeak has invested some $400 million into the refinery, and increased its daily processing capacity from 90,000 to 135,000 barrels per day.A deal to sell North Atlantic to New Brunswick-based Irving Oil collapsed at the last minute in early October, with Silverpeak saying in a letter to employees that a permanent closure would follow if a path to economic viability could not be found.Baltimore-based Origin specializes in the recycling of waste oil products, and made a competing but unsuccessful bid against Irving for Come By Chance earlier this year.Now the company is back with a second offer, though the terms have not been disclosed.Origin CEO Nicholas Myerson has declined repeated interview requests.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
As an East Coast city, Saint John faces serious risks from climate change.The projected one-metre rise in sea levels is by itself a big deal.Factor in a storm surge event during a really high tide — a 20 to 50 percent probability by 2050 — and things get interesting.Saint John's newly approved Climate Change Adaptation Plan includes colour maps to show what neighbourhoods, evacuation routes and industrial zones would be under water in that scenario.Widespread impactTake the Courtney Bay Causeway, a major route linking the Central Peninsula to the city's east side, and a vital piece of flood control infrastructure.If it is breached, 22 emergency routes are expected to be affected, including the Saint John Throughway, Rothesay Avenue and much of the city's retail east side, including residential neighbourhoods.Such an event could damage more than 1,800 homes and businesses along with 157 industrial properties, including petroleum storage sites.The provincial government mandated the creation of the 100-page document and funded it through the Environmental Trust Fund at a cost of $100,000.It is a precondition for approval of provincial infrastructure funds in the future. The work itself was contracted to ACAP Saint John.City councillors like Greg Norton pointed to the maps showing neighbourhoods, municipal infrastructure and parks that could be flooded or isolated. "You make it real by talking about things that are important to people and how they could be at threat," said Norton, listing off key landmarks. "The Port of Saint John, RKYC, Partridge Island, Long Wharf, Market Slip, Tin Can Beach, I could keep going."Ways to reduce riskThe plan also looks at other climate change impacts, such as coastal erosion, worsening spring freshets, water-borne diseases and homelessness.It makes recommendations to reduce risks down the road.The document is to be incorporated into the municipal plan.City manager John Collin told councillors it will be up to him and his staff to follow the directions set out in the document."They are plans," said Collin. "Let there be no doubt, they are plans. We now have an obligation as your staff to ensure that we achieve those plans. The onus is on us."
A Slave Lake councillor is apologizing to residents after saying the community should "stop feeding" homeless people from surrounding Indigenous communities. Coun. Joy McGregor, who was giving an update on the Homeless Coalition, made the comments during a Sept. 8 council meeting. "A lot of our people are coming from Trout, Loon, Atikameg, Wabasca. They're not even local to our own community," said McGregor. "We need to do some solid work ... to get them home. We need to stop being so nice to them. We need to stop feeding them. We need to stop doing all these wonderful things." McGregor acknowledged at the time that her comments would likely cause anger. "I know that that sounds horrible ... but they have to be accountable and we have to get them home." She added that the homeless population tends to charge phones and iPads outside the local college, a practice that she would like to see stopped. As well, she suggested the town work with local grocery stores to stop the homeless population from stealing hand sanitizer. She said hand sanitizer may have to be an over-the-counter product like Sudafed and mouthwash, to stop people from drinking it. "It's a quick way that people use it and abuse it." In a Nov. 8 press release, the Driftpile Cree Nation released a statement condemning her comments. The First Nation is "of the view that neither the approach nor the language used by Councillor McGregor are appropriate or acceptable — particularly in an era of reconciliation between First Nations and Canada." As well, the First Nation said, the statements show a "willful ignorance" to the root cause of the issue, which is "the direct result of our peoples' forced disconnection from our land, culture and community by Canadian colonization." The First Nation said it recognizes there is a significant homelessness problem in the community. Barbara Courtorielle, executive director of the Slave Lake Aboriginal Friendship Centre, had pitched rezoning a provincially owned building for transitional housing, but that proposal was rejected by council on Nov. 3.The Friendship Centre hosted the mat program in its building last year but that's not possible this year because the space has been dedicated to youth programming."We are and continue to be deeply disappointed by the lack of partnership shown by the Town of Slave Lake in this regard," wrote the Driftpile Cree Nation. The First Nation is encouraging members to stop supporting Slave Lake's businesses. The First Nation said it will not be making any expenditures in Slave Lake until it receives a public apology for "the callous, cruel and racist comments made by councillor McGregor." Mayor speaks to issueIn a Monday news conference, Mayor Tyler Warman offered an apology."The Town of Slave Lake would like to start by apologizing to the Indigenous communities near and far that we have left you with the impression that this is how our council thinks," he said. He said the town has work to do in helping those in need. When Warman was asked if thought McGregor's comments were racist, he said, "Obviously I think that those comments were not correct."But he added he doesn't have the expertise to say whether or not the comments were racist. "We recognize an apology needs to be made and we need to move forward." Warman has not reached out to any of the nearby Indigenous communities, but he said that's coming soon. McGregor did not attend the news conference, but Warman said he is is the spokesperson for the town and McGregor has apologized.WATCH | Councillor says town should 'stop being so nice' to the homeless from surrounding communitiesWarman also said McGregor has experienced "some very personal attacks and she's taking some time now to herself." The mayor added that he probably should've spoken up at the initial council meeting. "I have to do better as well," said Warman. "We need to work on our wording. We need to work on our understanding." Boycott still in playChief Dwayne Laboucan of Driftpile Cree Nation said he's thankful the mayor recognized the issue with the councillor's comments. "We still would like to have councillor McGregor say something," he said. Laboucan said in the meantime he's still encouraging a boycott of Slave Lake's businesses and will meet with council in the next few days to see if the boycott will be lifted. In a Nov. 9 Facebook post, McGregor said she acknowledges "that I have upset many people by using language that was inconsiderate."I am deeply sorry to you all and those affected by poor choice of language." The text of McGregor's apology has also been published directly on the town's website. She said she has learned from this experience that representing her community "means welcoming ways to unlearn racism, to invite cultural sensitivity training, and ways of educating myself and others on what it means to be a better leader."Laboucan said would like McGregor to address the communities she pointed out in her initial comments and stated McGregor's online apology wasn't satisfactory."She apologizes to everybody," said Laboucan.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3:38 p.m. EST on Nov. 10, 2020: There are 271,787 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Quebec: 117,151 confirmed (including 6,493 deaths, 99,721 resolved) _ Ontario: 86,783 confirmed (including 3,260 deaths, 73,417 resolved) _ Alberta: 34,148 confirmed (including 369 deaths, 25,826 resolved) _ British Columbia: 18,714 confirmed (including 281 deaths, 13,425 resolved) _ Manitoba: 8,878 confirmed (including 114 deaths, 3,374 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 4,214 confirmed (including 28 deaths, 2,880 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,132 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,049 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 355 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 332 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 297 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 286 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 67 confirmed (including 64 resolved) _ Yukon: 23 confirmed (including 1 death, 20 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 10 confirmed (including 10 resolved) _ Nunavut: 2 confirmed _ Total: 271,787 (0 presumptive, 271,787 confirmed including 10,621 deaths, 220,417 resolved) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020. The Canadian Press
The province set a new all-time high for daily COVID-19 cases Monday with 190. This was the third consecutive day with triple digit cases reported. Another death was reported, this time in North Central, which includes Prince Albert, as well as several communities as far south as Rosthern and as far north as Timber Bay. No information was made available about where in the north central zone the case resulting in death was from. The individual was in their 80s. Four people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died since Saturday. There were 15 new cases reported in the North Central zone Monday. In other zones there were 76 in Saskatoon, 25 in Regina, 19 in the North West, 15 in the Far North West, eight in the Central East, seven in the South East, six in the North East, five in the South West, four in the Far North East, two in the Central West and one in the South Central. Location information is pending for six of the new cases. One case reported Nov. 7 with pending residence information has been assigned to the North West zone. The Saskatoon zone leads the Active Case breakdown with 434 cases, the North Central zone is third with 204 active cases. North Central 2, which includes Prince Albert, has 63 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 132 active cases and North Central 3 has nine active cases. In second place is Regina with 252 active cases. Of the 4,087 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,289 are considered active, which is a record number. The recovered number now sits at 2,769 after 22 more recoveries were reported. The number of people in hospital is 37 in total in the province. Twenty-nine people are currently receiving inpatient care; 14 in Saskatoon, six in North Central, four in Regina, two in the North West and one in the South East, Eight people, four in Saskatoon and two in North Central and Regina, are in intensive care. The total number of cases is 4,087. Of those,129 cases are from the Saskatoon area, 884 cases are from the north area (283 north west, 431 north central and 170 north east), 573 cases are from the Regina area, 547 cases are from the south area (243 south west, 226 south central and 78 south east), 504 cases are from the far north area (434 far north west, five in far north central and 65 far north east), 437 cases are from the central area (201 central west and 236 central east) and 437 cases are from the central area (201 central west and 236 central east). There are now 13 cases which have pending residence location. There are currently 120 cases that are health care workers; however, the source of the infections is not related to their work environments in all instances. Of the 4,087 cases in the province: 388 cases are related to travel, 1,871 are community contacts, which includes mass gatherings, 887 have no known exposures and 941 are under investigation by local public health. The age breakdown shows 832 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 1,488 cases are in the 20-39-age range, 1,157 are in the 40-59-age range, 507 are in the 60-79-age range and 103 are in the 80-plus-age range. The gender breakdown shows 49 per cent of the cases being females and 51 per cent being males. Yesterday, 2,505 tests for COVID-19 were processed. As of today there have been 284,021 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Saskatchewan. Potential COVID-19 exposures in Prince Albert and Meath Park On Monday morning the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) warned residents of potential COVID-19 exposure at a location in Prince Albert. The exposures were at the Northern Lights Casino, 6:45 p.m. to 3 a.m. (each day) on October 26 and 27. As well, on Sunday, the SHA sent out an alert that on Halloween an individual who was handing out candy from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the town of Meath Park had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was likely infectious on Halloween. The SHA sends out public alerts when health officials are uncertain about the number of known close contacts COVID-19 patients had before being tested. In those cases, they notify the community about locations the patient may have visited while infectious. SundayMichael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
For multi-time "Jeopardy!" contestant Bob Harris, there was perhaps no better example of late host Alex Trebek's generosity than during a wedding that took place off-hours on the set. It was 2005 and Harris was officiating the nuptials between Dara Hellman and Dan Melia, his friend who'd beaten him on a 1998 "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions. The Ohio-raised Harris had never officiated a wedding before and his heart was pounding out of his chest as he stood at Trebek's podium, in front of a game board of wedding-related categories like "Love" and "Marriage."
The significance of this year's presidential election for U.S. climate policy came down to a basic difference between the two rivals. One candidate accepted the reality of climate change and wanted to do something about it. The other denied the threat and actively reversed attempts to combat it.So Joe Biden's victory is of no small consequence."It's been a long, tough slog these past four years internationally on climate action," Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, the former environment minister, tweeted on Saturday night after Biden's win had been called by the major American television networks. "It will make a big difference to have the U.S. back in the ParisAgreement, joining Canada & like-minded countries pushing hard for ambitious climate action."Biden's ambitions may be limited by the U.S. Senate, which is likely to remain in Republican control. But the White House's re-engagement with the fight against climate change is bound to have ramifications for Canada and the world — perhaps even across the Canadian political spectrum."Having America (especially with its economic heft) 'back' in the global climate fight could help to increase the drive to increased ambition [and] climate solutions," Sarah Petrevan, policy director for Clean Energy Canada, said in an email last week. "While the [European Union] is a global leader … the fact is, having that ambition closer to home … will be essential for Canada and increased action [and] ambition."Under Biden, the United States' will rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change and the U.S. will become the latest country to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050. Biden also has promised that climate change will be a major component of his foreign policy — an area where the American president has relatively free rein.Something short of a 'green new deal'Domestically, Biden's power is more limited. As the Democratic candidate, the backbone of his climate plan was a promise to spend $2 trillion over the next four years to reduce emissions and speed up his country's transition to a clean economy. But Republican senators are rather unlikely to sign off on the complete implementation of the Biden platform."The campaign in the United States created kind of a bogeyman out of the Green New Deal and we expect that the Republicans will exploit that at every opportunity," Mikaela McQuade, a Washington-based analyst with Eurasia Group (who previously worked for both McKenna and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers), said last week.McQuade said Biden might still find Republican support for carbon capture utilization and storage, tax credits for wind and solar energy, building electric vehicle infrastructure and developing hydrogen as a fuel source. He can also use executive authority to develop and implement regulations — something Barack Obama did a lot of during his presidency.Some of those moves could have direct impacts on Canadian policy. Biden has promised, for instance, new regulations for methane emissions — which could either match Canada's current standards or put pressure on Justin Trudeau's government to move more aggressively. McQuade suggests Biden is also likely to grant California a waiver to proceed with its own vehicle emissions standards, which would clear the way for Canada to align its standards with the Golden State.Dan Woynillowicz, a climate policy consultant in British Columbia, points out that Biden also could make changes to financial regulation to boost climate risk disclosure. That, he said, could "really begin to reshape markets and capital flows and consideration of risk that, in some senses, is just as important as what he might be able to do ... with spending."And as Sarah Hastings-Simon and Rachel Samson argued in a recent post for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, American movement toward clean growth would increase the incentive for Canada to keep pace.Keystone XL's second deathBut Biden also has promised to rescind the permit that Donald Trump issued for the Keystone XL pipeline — another flashpoint in the debate over energy and the environment in this country.Officials from Ottawa and Alberta can make the case that Canadian climate policies have improved significantly since Obama first refused to authorize the project in 2015. But such assurances would have to compete with the pressure that Biden will feel from American activists and members of his own party."With many specific climate proposals facing dilution and delay by a Republican Senate, rescinding KXL would be one area the Biden administration could act and deliver a win to a key political constituency with no Congressional interference," McQuade wrote in a note for Eurasia Group last week.The second demise of Keystone XL would put new pressure on the Trudeau government to account for the future of Canada's oil and gas industry. But American action on climate change also would increase pressure on Trudeau's Liberals to fulfil their own promises — and perhaps even move faster."Politically speaking, Biden's election, even with a divided government, would likely strengthen the [Liberal] government's resolve on climate change," McQuade said. "I think that's especially true when you consider Canadian [public] attention is really only captured by the presidency. And if the message from the White House is climate leadership, that will resonate."Could a Biden presidency also help nudge Erin O'Toole and the Conservative party toward embracing more robust climate action?Twelve years ago, the Conservatives greeted Obama's election as an opportunity to make progress on climate change. "I'm quite optimistic that we now have a partner on the North American continent that will provide leadership to the world on the climate change issue," Stephen Harper said in February 2009, shortly after his first meeting with Obama.Those early years of the Obama era coincided with the Conservative party's last serious flirtation with implementing a price on carbon. At the time, the Harper government's stated goal was a continental cap-and-trade system.But Obama's cap-and-trade legislation stalled in the U.S. Senate and the Harper government lost interest. By 2011, the Conservatives were attacking an NDP proposal for cap-and-trade with the same venom they had used previously to condemn former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's plan for a carbon tax.The Conservative party became the primary source of opposition to any plans to act on climate change and former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was unwilling or unable to walk his party out of that corner.Biden's election might make it just a little harder to argue against action now. "I think it makes things more challenging for O'Toole and the Conservatives because they can no longer point to the U.S. as being that neighbour who's not moving," Woynillowicz said.Conversely, American action on clean energy and innovation — and the jobs that would come with it — could give O'Toole something he can point to in order to convince his supporters to move past the talking points of the Harper era.Not even Trump's denial was enough to completely stall all movement toward reducing emissions and transitioning the global economy. And even if everything in American politics is harder than it should be, a president committed to re-engaging with the climate crisis will only add to the political, economic and environmental momentum that continues to build.What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.
An independent panel has begun working on recommendations for how the mining industry should be run in the territory.It's released the results of a public consultation it did earlier this year.That included more than 90 meetings, many written submissions, and thousands of comments on a survey, said Michael Pealow, the facilitator of the Mineral Development Strategy process.The process came out of an agreement between Yukon's 11 self-governing First Nations and the Yukon government, Pealow said."The legislation, the Quartz Mining Act and the Placer Mining Act are both over 100 years old," he said."And there have been numerous amendments between then and now, which has resulted in some very confusing legislation for a lot of people, including mineral developers themselves."He said some of the major topics to come up include uncertainty and tensions over land claims that haven't been signed or negotiated. Those are in the traditional territories of the White River First Nation, the Liard First Nation and the Ross River Dena Council.Some comments are calling for negotiations with those First Nations to set up processes for mineral development on their territories.Another issue is over land use plans as most regions in the territory don't have one yet.A big issue is free entry for miners, an entry system which allows any prospector to enter most public lands and explore for minerals. Some First Nations and others are calling for an end to free entry, while the industry says free entry in some form is needed.Pealow said the three-person panel made up of Math'ieya Alatini, Doug Eaton and Angus Robertson will prepare draft recommendations by early January. After another round of consultation, they'll issue final recommendations in the spring.He said their work has challenges, but generally there's support for modernization of the legislation. "There's actually quite a lot of consensus in a lot of areas, in some of the areas, too, that you might think there would be more conflict," said Pealow. "Generally, across the board, people aren't happy with the status quo and would like to see change."
NASHVILLE — Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard is the second artist so far that will miss a scheduled performance at the CMA Awards on Wednesday due to COVID-19.Hubbard posted a note on his Instagram page on Monday saying he was asymptomatic and quarantining on his bus outside his home. It comes days after another artist, Lee Brice, also revealed he had tested positive and would also not perform on the show, which airs on ABC from Nashville, Tennessee.The Country Music Association said in a statement that while it was disappointing that both artists would not perform, but it was a sign that their COVID-19 precautions were working.“We have been extremely diligent with our testing process in advance of anyone entering our footprint,” the statement said. “Every single person has been tested, and many will be tested repeatedly throughout the week. This is in addition to wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and of course practicing social and physical distancing.”Although the show doesn’t have a normal audience of fans because of the pandemic, CMA CEO Sarah Trahern had promised to bring country stars together in one room for the awards show, while keeping them physically distanced.Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — The Crown rested its case Monday at the sexual assault trial of former Quebec television star Eric Salvail, with final arguments to be heard later this week.Prosecutors were expected to present three rebuttal witnesses who claim to have been victims of inappropriate touching, exhibitionism or repeated sexual comments from Salvail.Instead, prosecutor Amelie Rivard told the judge that audio from police interviews of the three witnesses would be filed, with Salvail's lawyer agreeing to waive the right to cross-examine them.Salvail is on trial for sexual assault, harassment and unlawful confinement in connection with events alleged to have occurred between April and October 1993 involving his former co-worker, Donald Duguay. Duguay, who has agreed to be identified publicly, alleges he was assaulted in a bathroom of Radio-Canada's Montreal headquarters.Salvail, 51, denied all the allegations against him during testimony at his trial, referring to the details of the alleged infractions as far-fetched. He said he was no longer working at the public broadcaster's Montreal headquarters when the alleged incident occurred.The trial began in February and spanned a total of four days. The rebuttal evidence was intended to counter the testimony of the accused, who said he is not the type of person to commit the acts alleged by Duguay.The three former male work colleagues, whose identities are covered by a publication ban, met with police in March 2020 and recorded interviews that were filed in court.One of them recounted that Salvail approached him from behind in an empty office and put his hands down the witness's pants, touching his testicles.“It was intense,” he told investigators, adding that he pushed Salvail off and headed for an elevator, but Salvail allegedly followed him and lowered his pants and revealed himself to the witness.Another witness alleged that he was subjected to sexually charged comments from his first meeting with Salvail. He said he was annoyed by the behaviour but then one day it went too far, and Salvail allegedly approached him from behind and rubbed himself against him."It was too much for me," said the man, adding that he pushed Salvail away. "He crossed the line."Quebec court Judge Alexandre Dalmau will hear final arguments in the case beginning on Wednesday. Salvail isn't expected in court this week and will watch the proceedings by video link instead.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2020.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
As news of Alex Trebek’s death spread around the world, Jeopardy! fans quickly started sharing how much the legendary, Canadian television host meant to them, including contestant on the show, Burt Thakur.
Anne describes the past two years living with dementia like being on a roller-coaster — except instead of sitting securely inside, she’s hanging off the train by a strap, flailing and hitting the trellises. “I never know what’s going to happen and it can be really painful sometimes,” said the Hamilton resident who wanted to be identified by her middle name out of fear of repercussions from family members who may view her as incompetent. “I really got lost, very lost to the point of being suicidal.” Anne, 61, is one of thousands of Hamiltonians living with dementia. Faced with challenges at work, in her social life and at home before being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2019, she struggled with her mental health and plunged rapidly into despair. Having cared for family members with dementia since her late teens, and never marrying or having children of her own, Anne’s biggest fear was the uncertainty of when — and how — she would die. She previously worked in long-term-care management and knew the conditions in care homes intimately. She worried that she would live out her last days all alone in a care facility, surrounded only by strangers. Her fears were so overpowering that she sought medically assisted death to avoid that from happening. “I wanted to make sure that I had everything in place before my mind went, and I couldn’t speak for myself,” she said. “That really scared me.” Today, Anne is a member of a working group to support the Empowering Dementia Friendly Communities initiative — a Hamilton Council on Aging project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada to improve life for people living with dementia and their caregivers. On Aug. 13, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that the Hamilton Council on Aging, a non-profit charitable group, will receive more than $810,000 over four years for a plan to help make Hamilton and Haldimand County more inclusive for people living with dementia. The first stage in developing a plan involves speaking to community members with dementia and their caregivers about their experiences. Hamilton Council on Aging conducted interviews with community members and recently wrapped up an online survey seeking the public’s input to inform their next steps. Getting diagnosed with dementia Anne’s journey with dementia began about 10 years ago, when she began to lose interest in all aspects of her social life. The former public speaker was heavily involved in the community but found she could no longer keep commitments. She used to go to church every Sunday, but started losing her motivation to attend. She also had difficulty remembering things, including her debit PIN, bill deadlines and her keys. She had a tremor, difficulty walking and a hard time finding words even though she knew what she wanted to say. She dealt with finances in her job with the city, and would occasionally find that her funds didn’t add up. “I used to take money to work, and if I was short, I would just put in the funds,” she said. “I didn’t tell anybody.” She had multiple fires at home — two which required the fire department — from forgetting to turn off the oven or stove. She also noticed changes in her personality. She was becoming more withdrawn, and although she never used to be an angry person, she’d burst into anger at things that didn’t affect her. In 2016, Anne saw her doctor about her memory and mobility problems. She had a series of tests which suggested some cognitive impairment. A neurologist suggested it could be early onset Alzheimer’s and prescribed medication. In 2017, when Anne’s forgetfulness worsened and her co-workers began to express concern, she started months of meetings with her supervisors, managers, human resources and her union to find strategies and accommodations. Her memory problems led her and her supervisors to agree in spring 2018 that she was no longer fit to work. By October 2019, after more testing, her neurologist confirmed Anne had early onset Alzheimer’s disease which was causing her dementia. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, dementia is not one specific disease, but a group of symptoms such as memory loss and difficulties with language resulting from physical disorders affecting the brain. Alzheimer’s — a fatal disease which destroys brain cells and worsens over time — is the most common cause of dementia. While there are medications that can treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s, there is currently no cure for the disease. A person with dementia faces difficulty in at least two areas of cognition — for example, memory problems which are not normal for the person’s age, problems with language, and difficulty problem-solving, said Dr. Christina Gojmerac, a clinical neuropsychologist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “The second part of it is that these deficits have impacted this person’s ability to care for themselves,” she said. That can include needing help taking medication, remembering appointments or maintaining personal hygiene. Struggling with mental health After receiving her diagnosis, Anne felt “totally lost.” She didn’t know where to turn for help. Her doctor told her the disease was progressive and had no cure, but couldn’t tell her what to expect and when. She also didn’t feel comfortable telling her family about the diagnosis, because she’d seen how some of them treated other relatives with dementia — out of ignorance of how dementia works — and didn’t think they’d have the patience to care for her. Although Anne is still technically considered a city employee and receives disability insurance and CPP disability co-payments, no longer being able to work or volunteer was “devastating.” “All of a sudden, my life seemed to come to a stop,” she said. That was the point when she started seeking medically assisted death. “Depression and suicide in the early stages (of dementia) are not uncommon,” said Mary Burnett, CEO of the local Alzheimer Society serving Brant, Haldimand Norfolk, Hamilton and Halton, who noted it can also affect people who are caring for loved ones with dementia. “I think sometimes depression in older adults and people with dementia is underrecognized.” It’s one of the reasons why most of the Alzheimer Society’s counsellors are registered social workers, said Burnett. “As the numbers grow, it was very important that we understand and are able to recognize that so that we can refer people on to the mental-health resources they need,” she said. The Alzheimer Society provides support to people and their care partners through outreach, education and counselling, and support those at risk through strategies to prevent onset of dementia. “The biggest risk factor is our age and our population is aging,” said Burnett. And yet, the Alzheimer Society stresses, “dementia is not a normal part of aging.” Over the 13 years since she’s been with the Alzheimer Society, the biggest change Burnett has seen is the increasing number of people living with dementia as the aging population increases, but also an increased awareness among health-care providers who are referring people to the Alzheimer Society more often. “We know that an early diagnosis and referral for support and education helps people live better with this disease.” Living, not dying, with dementia The turning point came for Anne when she began reaching out for help, and people in turn began offering support. She reached out to a free counselling service offered by the employee assistance program through her job at the city. A counsellor there recommended she contact the local Alzheimer Society. So, Anne got in touch and met people on the same journey. Anne also contacted her church again after a long time. She resumed her role as a “prayer warrior,” joining a mailing list to receive messages when anyone in her community needs a prayer. She received counselling from a social worker who’s on staff with her family physician. Her pharmacy also started making bubble packs of her pills to make taking medications easier. She stopped most of her cooking to avoid further house fires. Burnett said that since many people are now being diagnosed in the early stages of dementia, they often still lead purposeful lives. “People with dementia are finding their voice. They are becoming advocates and they want to be respected and treated as important, purposeful people with lots of contributions to make long after a diagnosis,” said Burnett. “As one advocate said, ‘I’m not dying with dementia, I’m living with dementia.’” Two years after Anne’s diagnosis, there are still many unknowns about how the disease will progress. But her perspective has changed. She understands she will have good days and some bad ones, so she’s gentler to herself. Anne said it was important to stay connected and find a purpose. She takes free online courses about dementia through the University of Tasmania in Australia. “I’ve got my first certificate, I got 94 per cent,” she said. “My mind is not supposed to be working, but I’m living it.” She also reconnected with her old hobbies such as knitting hats and blankets for donation. And, she enjoys spending time caring for her two bunnies and cat, who she says love her right back. “I am very grateful. I’ve put things into perspective,” she said. “I’m starting to feel alive again.” Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
NEW YORK — In the first days of Greta Thunberg’s solitary sidewalk protest outside Swedish Parliament in August 2018, most walk right past her. Some pause and ask why she’s not in school. But people steadily begin to take notice of the steadfast 16-year-old girl. Those humble beginnings of Thunberg’s protest — the unlikely birth of a global movement — are seen in the opening minutes of the new documentary “I Am Greta.” Since then, Thunberg has met world leaders, been vilified by others, and seen countless join her in an ever-growing resistance to environmental complacency. It’s a journey she readily describes as totally surreal — “It’s like living in a movie and you don’t know the plot,” she says — but also affirming. “I look back and I remember how it felt. I think: Oh, I was so young and naive back then — which is quite funny,” says Thunberg, recalling her first days of protest in an interview. “So much has changed for me since then but also so much hasn’t changed from the bigger perspective.” “I feel like now I’m happier in my life,” she adds. “When you do something that’s meaningful, it gives you the feeling that you’re meaningful.” “I Am Greta,” which debuts Friday on Hulu, is the first documentary to chart the meteoric rise of Thunberg from an anonymous, uncertain teen to an international activist. As an intimate chronicle of a singular figure, it plays like a coming-of-age story for someone who seemed, from the start, uncannily of age. The film, directed by Nathan Grossman, captures the head-spinning accomplishments, and the toll they sometimes take, on the bluntly impassioned Thunberg. For an activist who insists on putting the cause before herself, it’s also a somewhat uncomfortable acceptance of the spotlight. “I haven’t really achieved anything,” Thunberg says, speaking by phone from Sweden. “Everything the movement has achieved.” She doesn’t endorse everything about the documentary. It should come as no surprise that Thunberg, who has called her Asperger’s syndrome her “superpower” — a condition she believes only enhances her ability to be straightforward and focused — has a few notes. “I don’t really like the title of the film, ‘I Am Greta.’ It makes it seem like I take myself very seriously,” says Thunberg. (In Sweden, the film is simply called “Greta,” but that title was recently taken by the 2018 Isabelle Huppert film.) “Also the poster. I look like I have make-up on. I don’t like the poster and the title.” Grossman began filming Thunberg soon after she began protesting in August 2018, but he didn’t expect much from it. He told Thunberg he might not stick around for more than a few hours. He shot in half-resolution to save memory cards. But as time went on, and young people around the world began following Thunberg’s lead, Grossman realized he had unwittingly captured the first moments of an unfolding zeitgeist. The project evolved and Grossman continued to shadow Thunberg up to her scorching speech at the United Nations in which she admonished world leaders: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.” “She felt that a movie about her could help clarify things,” says Grossman. “In the media, I think, she hasn’t felt that she recognized herself. The one-dimensional character of Greta is a very angry, frustrated girl. In the movie, you see so much more — that she’s also funny and has different sides.” Part of the power of Thunberg is that, as a 17-year-old, she literally embodies a future imperiled by the inaction of older generations. “I Am Greta” is in a way a profile of generational divide, where adults and politicians line up to take selfies with a young woman who despite her stature sometimes struggles to get out of bed for an appointment or cries for home while sailing across the Atlantic. But if Thunberg, Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2019, is recognizably human in “I Am Greta,” she's also ruthlessly frank. She doesn't mince words on Earth's trajectory. She dismisses superficial gestures for change. And she shrugs off those who dismiss or mock her message. Asked how she felt watching news clips of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin deriding her in the film, Thunberg laughs. “That’s one of the highlights! It’s hysterically funny,” Thunberg says. “It just proves that you’re doing something right. If you’re being attacked by these kinds of people that shows you’re doing something right. It just shows how desperate they are not to talk about the climate.” During the pandemic, Thunberg has seen climate slip from front pages. But she wishes the climate could generate the same level of alarm that COVID-19 has. “It feels like we’re stuck no matter what we do,” she says. “We won’t achieve real change unless we actually start to treat the climate crisis like a crisis.” In September, Thunberg was again outside Swedish Parliament for a socially distanced climate protest, part of thousands of school strikes held that day. But watching the U.S. presidential debates, where climate was a little-discussed issue and summarily dismissed by Trump, she says, has been eye-opening. “It surprises me. I knew the situation in the U.S. was bad when it comes to climate, that it’s being treated as an opinion rather than actual scientific fact, but I didn’t know it was this bad,” says Thunberg. “Europe and Sweden, we are very, very far from where we need to be in the discussion. But compared to the U.S., it’s just surprising.” Earlier this fall, Thunberg returned to school after taking a year off. “I’ve missed it a lot. It just feels very good to be back in school and to do normal things, to have routines. I love routines — that’s probably a lot because of my autism,” she says. “And in this environment, I’m almost anonymous in a way. People know who I am, of course, but I’m not there because I’m famous. I’m there to do something else, I’m just like the rest.” Anonymity might no longer be a long-term option for Thunberg, who will turn 18 in January. But it's a tradeoff she will make. When she reflects on the last two years, she sounds dangerously close to being something few would label Thunberg: an optimist. "Before I started doing this, my experience was that no one cared. Now I’ve been proven wrong. Obviously, many people, especially young people, care about the climate crisis and the future, and that’s encouraging,” says Thunberg. “Humanity has not yet failed. We are failing, but humanity has not failed.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
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